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Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters Prior to Departure for Bethpage, New York

May 23, 2018

The President. Hello, folks.

Investigation Into Russia's Interference in 2016 Presidential Election

Q. Mr. President, sir, what proof do you have that your campaign was spied on?

The President. All you have to do is look at the basics, and you'll see. It looks like a very serious event. But we'll find out. When they look at the documents, I think people are going to see a lot of bad things happened. I hope it's not so, because if it is, there's never been anything like it in the history of our country. I hope—I mean, if you look at Clapper, he sort of admitted that they had spies in the campaign, yesterday, inadvertently. But I hope it's not true. But it looks like it is.

Former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James B. Comey, Jr./Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General

Q. Mr. President, the former FBI Director, James Comey, said to use the word "spy" is the wrong word. He said——

The President. I think James Comey has got a lot of problems. If you look at what at he did, if you look at all of the lies—the tremendous lies—if you look at all that's going on, I think James Comey has got a lot of problems. Now, at some point they have an IG report, and then let's see what James Comey has to say. But I assume he's covered in the IG report. But if you look at what he said—all of the lies, all of the fiction—I think he's got a lot of problems.

Investigation Into Russia's Interference in 2016 Presidential Election/MS-13 Criminal Gang

Q. But who do you think was orchestrating this spying? Who do you think was responsible for it?

The President. Well, I don't want to get into yet, but I will tell you——

Q. Was it Obama?

The President. ——after we look at the proof—would he know? I would certainly hope not. But I think it's going to be pretty obvious after a while. We're going now to talk about MS-13 with the great police officers. We're going out to Long Island. I don't know, are you coming with us? Is anybody—no? It's going to be very exciting.

Department of Justice/Former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James B. Comey, Jr.

Q. Aren't you worried you're undercutting the Justice Department? Why won't you say you have confidence in Rod Rosenstein?

The President. No, no. No, no. We're not undercutting. We're cleaning everything up.

Q. Why won't you say you have confidence in Rod Rosenstein? The President. This was a terrible situation. What we're doing is we're cleaning everything up. It's so important. What I'm doing is a service to this country. And I did a great service to this country by firing James Comey and——

Q. Mr. President——

The President. Excuse me. A lot of people have said it. And you go into the FBI, and a lot of those great people working in the FBI, they will tell you, I did a great service to our country by firing James Comey.

Q. What about Rod Rosenstein, sir?

Investigation Into Russia's Interference in 2016 Presidential Election

Q. Mr. President, this meeting tomorrow with the DOJ, Congressmen Nunes and Gowdy, Ed O'Callaghan, Christopher Wray, and Dan Coats at the DNI, are you specifically telling the DOJ to give them the documents that they're looking——

The President. I want them all to get together, and I want them—because everybody wants this solved. But a lot of bad things have happened. We now call it "Spygate." You're calling it "Spygate." A lot of bad things have happened. I want them all to get together. They'll sit in a room. Hopefully, they'll be able to work it out among themselves.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

Q. Mr. President, on NAFTA, Democrats—your tweet about automakers——

The President. NAFTA? Excuse me, NAFTA?

Q. Yes. Your tweet about automakers, what are you referencing with that?

The President. I think your autoworkers and your auto companies in this country are going to be very happy with what's going to happen. You'll be seeing very soon what I'm talking about. NAFTA is very difficult. Mexico has been very difficult to deal with. Canada has been very difficult to deal with. They have been taking advantage of the United States for a long time. I am not happy with their requests.

But I will tell you, in the end, we win. We will win, and we'll win big. We'll get along with Mexico; we'll get along with Canada. But I will tell you, they have been very difficult to deal with. They're very spoiled, because nobody has done this. But I will tell you that what they ask for is not fair. Our autoworkers are going to be extremely happy.

Q. Sir, what about Rod Rosenstein, sir? What about your Deputy Attorney General, sir?

The President's Upcoming Meeting With Chairman of the State Affairs Commission Kim Jong Un of North Korea in Singapore

Q. [Inaudible]—summit in Singapore with Kim Jong Un?

The President. Say it? What?

Q. Are you a hundred-percent committed to going through or going to the Singapore summit?

The President. Well, we're going to see what happens. On Singapore, we're going to see. And it could happen. It could very well happen. But whatever it is, it is. We will know next week about Singapore. Q. Why wouldn't you go?

The President. And if we go, I think it will be a great thing for North Korea.

Q. Why wouldn't you go?

Q. Yesterday in the Oval Office, you seemed to suggest some pessimism about the June 12 date.

The President. I can't hear you, John [John Roberts, Fox News].

The President's Upcoming Meeting With Chairman of the State Affairs Commission Kim Jong Un of North Korea in Singapore

Q. I said, yesterday in the Oval Office, you seemed to suggest some pessimism about the June 12 date. Do you think that will actually happen?

The President. Someday a date will happen. It could very well be June 12. Someday a date will absolutely happen. It could very well be June 12. We'll see. We'll know next week.

Investigation Into Russia's Interference in 2016 Presidential Election/Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein

Q. Mr. President, why won't you say whether you have confidence in Rod Rosenstein?

The President. Well, they're going to all be in the room tomorrow. We're going to see what happens. What I want is, I want total transparency.

Q. With Democrats?

The President. Wait. You have to have transparency.

Q. And Democrats?

The President. Even they probably want transparency, because this issue supersedes a party. This supersedes Republicans and Democrats. So what I want from Rod, from the FBI, from everybody—we want transparency. And you know what? I think in their own way they are obstructionists, but even the Democrats, I really believe, on this issue—it supersedes—I think they want transparency too.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:12 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House prior to boarding Marine One en route to Joint Base Andrews, MD. In his remarks, he referred to former Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, Jr.; and former President Barack Obama. A reporter referred to Acting Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Edward O'Callaghan; and Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher A. Wray.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters Prior to Departure for Bethpage, New York Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/332569

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